George Russell attended the 2022 Mexican Grand Prix Thursday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the full transcript!
Q: George, we’re going to start with you. Throw it back to Austin, first of all tricky race for you to fifth but what can you tell us about the car’s performance and the upgrades that you had there?
George RUSSELL: I think it was obviously a shame on Sunday with how things panned out, for the obvious reasons at the race start and I completed the race with a bit of a damaged front wing, which didn’t help things. So it was, yeah, a little bit annoying to see that race ahead of me and not being able to get involved. But I think Lewis showed what the car was capable of, and [we have] definitely taken a step in the right direction. But I think it’s not fair to just judge on one event. I think this is a slightly different circuit now. So hopefully, we can go out here this weekend and try and be in the mix again.
Q: Well, it was a Mercedes front-row lock-out here last year. How do you think it’s going to go? How quick will the car be?
GR: I think Mexico is always a bit of a unique one. Tyre prep is really difficult. Obviously, with the lack of air density and oxygen here, it’s difficult for the cars and for the engines and I think we just have to wait and see. I think last year, as you said, Mercedes were on the front row, but they weren’t competitive at all throughout the whole weekend, but managed to turn it on for qualifying. So hopefully there can be a small repeat of that, but definitely no guarantees.
Q: You mentioned the word preparation. And of course, Nyck de Vries is going to be driving your car in FP1 tomorrow. With the Pirelli test in FP2, how much more complicated does that make your preparations for the race?
GR: It makes it complicated in terms of setting the car up and getting in the groove. But FP2 is always a bit of a tricky session here, because this track isn’t used often and it’s quite dirty, quite dusty. And for me personally getting the 90 minutes FP2 gives you a good opportunity to sort of catch back up in terms of your driving, but I don’t think it’ll be too much of a loss.
Q: Quick word on the battle for P4 in the Drivers’ Championship between you and Carlos. What is it, 16 points between you? How much do you want that, given that your previous best I think is P15?
GR: Yeah, I think you obviously want to finish every season as high as you want. I think I’m probably more focused on just getting back into a good groove and rhythm. I think at the start of this year we had such a consistent run of results and every single time we hit the track we were putting in good performances whether it was on a Saturday or Sunday, and everything seemed to be running quite smoothly. But these last three races, for various reasons, have been very scrappy, most of which on my behalf. So I need to… I’m probably just more focused on trying to have a clean last three weekends and the championship should hopefully sort itself out.
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QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dieter Rencken – RacingNews365) George last week after the Turn 1 incident on the opening lap, you said ‘he turned into me’ or ‘he crashed into me’ or something like that. And then later on you said that ‘apologies to Carlos, and I’ve been to go and see him, etc’. When I asked you whether the difference in your statements was politicking or for the Stewards or sportsmanship or what it was, you said, you’d tell me in Mexico, so you’ve had five days to think about your answer, what is it?
GR: I think, when you’re in the car, you want to get the best result possible regardless of what may have just happened. You’re always going to try and defend your case to the best of your ability. Obviously, when you get the opportunity to see that incident afterwards, maybe your views are slightly different. My views weren’t different. I thought I was at fault for that crash with Carlos but I’m not going to come on the radio during the middle of the race before the FIA have made a decision to say ‘I’m so sorry, that was my fault and give me a big penalty’. So I think that’s just the racing driver mentality. Once the decision has been made, and the penalty has been taken, that’s when the apologies came out. So yeah, I think that’s really the same for all of us in that regard.
Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) George, Lewis has said this week that he plans to stay on beyond his current contract. I just want to get your thoughts really on him staying on as your teammate for the foreseeable future please?
GR: Yeah, it’s really exciting to have that potential of Lewis staying on for a number of years to come. I think he has proven that he’s definitely not lifted his foot off the throttle pedal, and he’s definitely the last few races performing probably better than ever. And that’s really exciting for me to have the opportunity to be his teammate, to go directly head-to-head with him and grow on this journey that we’re on together because it really does feel like a journey that the two of us are on, along with the rest of the team, in trying to bring Mercedes back to winning ways. So yeah, I think we’ve got a really, really great relationship, transparent relationship and yeah, be great to be teammates for a number of years to come.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) For Seb and George as senior GPDA figures. We know you’ve got the meeting tomorrow with the drivers about the Suzuka report that was postponed a week. I just wondered, have you guys had a chance to look at the initial FIA findings, though? What are your thoughts from it? And what kind of clarity or more information are you looking for in tomorrow’s meeting?
GR: Yeah, I’ve read the report and I’m definitely interested to see how our conversation goes tomorrow and how we can continue to evolve the sport. I think the report was very factual, and didn’t really state anything that we didn’t really know. There was a lot of talk about Pierre within the report… okay, he was the culprit, let’s say, of overspeeding. I guess we want some answers about the double waved flag. You’ve got to lift off significantly and be prepared to stop but if there’s a double waved flag at the end of the straight in Mexico and you’re doing 350, you could lift off significantly but you’re still doing 280. Pierre was doing 180 I believe in Suzuka. I guess we need a little bit of clarity on that and it’s never straightforward, but we just need to continue to improve the sport and hopefully somehow find a way that we’re not ever in a situation like that again, where maybe a car doesn’t rebound on to the track or… I don’t know. But let’s see what the conversation is tomorrow.
Q: (Jenna Fryer – Associated Press) George, you talked about working with Lewis; three races left, he may have a winless season. How is he handling that?
GR: I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him. I think there’s a win in all of us when the right opportunity arises and I think it is exciting for us as a team that we’ve had a couple of opportunities this year to fight but I think we have to have our very, very best day and execute everything perfectly and our rivals need to have mishaps and mistakes to give us that half a chance so I think we know where we lie in terms of overall performance. I think we’re all just going out there for these final last three races to really do the best job possible and see what comes from that.